Speaking of television, I recently saw The Pacific with my wife. If you don’t know, The Pacific is an HBO mini-series about the eastern theater of World War Two. As a result, my wife and I started talking about our grandfathers, who both served at that time. Come to find out: My grandfather was at Iwo Jima. My wife’s grandfather was at Okinawa.
In my wildest dreams, I have a difficult time trying to imagine what it must have been like being an 18-year-old kid, away from home for the first time, fighting a gruesome war. While I realize the same has happened recently to many fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea, and Vietnam, the sheer size of World War Two makes me shake my head in disbelief.
At the same time, I have been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It is an immensely challenging book, and I encourage you to read it if you have not done so. With The Pacific and the massive number of deaths that were a result of World War 2 on my mind, Chapter 2 of Crazy Love leapt from the page. It is titled: “You Might Not Make it Through this Chapter.”
I think – “Ok.” This chapter is supposed to convict me about something that I am so moved to action on I need to put the book down, right? Wrong. You Might Not Make it Through this Chapter, is because you might die. All of us not there for the resurrection have a date with death, don’t we?
Death does not have an age, a color, or a nationality. All of us will be there soon, and none of us know when it will happen. Some of us will die this week, others in a few years, and some of us well into our nineties or hundreds. No matter when we die it will seem like the time has been too short. Everyone has that sense of longing for more, I believe.
Death, and war, and our short time here on earth also made me think about Band of Brothers, another HBO mini-series about the European theater of World War Two. There is an amazing scene in that film with a solider by the name of Ronald Speirs. Speirs is explaining to another soldier why the solider was paralyzed with fear during earlier combat. He says:
“We are all scared. You hid in that ditch because you think there is still hope (of survival)…the only hope you have is to accept the fact that you are already dead. And the sooner you accept that, the sooner you will be able to function as a solider is supposed to function.”
Isn’t that statement perfect? You are already dead. To function as you should at war, you need to give up, accept your death, and focus on the task at hand.
Is the Christian life not supposed to be the same? In Mark, Chapter 8, it says:
“…whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”
Quit chasing after nothing. You are already dead! It might not happen today, or tomorrow, but you will die soon. You will die – and you will stand before your creator. Live today like you are already standing there.
Crazy Love quotes C.S. Lewis on this. Lewis said:
“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this.”
I submit that maybe: Contemplating our mortality is human while focusing on our mortality, and what is beyond, is something of God.
You see, our life can easily be the focus if life is all that there is. Conversely, our lives in the shadow of eternity, puts the blip of our earthly existence in the proper context.
As James tells us in Chapter 4:
“…For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.”
How would you live your life if you knew you would die in the next 24 hours, the next week, the next month, or the next year?
Would you be more focused on loving God, and loving those around you?
Well, I will tell you this: You will meet God.